FIZZ earnings: What are they drinking at National Beverage?
When companies have a bad quarter, they often sugarcoat results with fancy language and fuzzy math. Special one-time items are a great excuse to make a loss look like a profit.
However, at National Beverage, they call a spade a spade. I think. I'm still trying to understand. …
In what may be the strangest earnings release ever, the company behind such colas as Shasta reported a 6 percent drop in revenue and a 16 percent drop in earnings for its fiscal first quarter.
"National Beverage Reports Less Than Typical Results" was the headline of the Florida company's press release.
(Read more from Jane Wells: LavCup—Why didn't I think of this?)
Then Chairman and CEO Nick Caporella weighed in. Fasten your seatbelts:
"Should we have the most credible reason for these results (and we could have), would it make a difference?" asked Nick A. Caporella, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer on a recent management call. "Does it make us feel less contrite relative to the credibility of the justification?" he queried. "There can be no allowable regrets in business or fumbles on the field (deck) of Endeavor—none ... (no one even knows how to practice them)," quipped Caporella.
I had to read that a couple times and I'm still not sure what that means, but I think he's upset and not making excuses. Kinda.
I called the company's headquarters and spoke to Grace Keene, who confirmed Caporella made these statements.
Here's more of what he said in the release:
"From mega retailers to soft drink giants, the summer of '13 will symbolically claim its victims! Consequently, the culmination of nervousness of a 'whiplashed' consumer to the 'knee jerk' reaction of Big Cola ... all segments of soft drink sales were affected—as retailers and soft drink companies subsequently disclosed. The lowering of prices being Big Cola's response—further complicated the situation! Cooler weather compounded already weakened consumer spirits," indicated Caporella.
When I asked Keene for more context—when were these statements made, what was the motivation, is this not unusual—she said she had no additional comment.
This isn't the first time Caporella has made interesting remarks. In reporting full-year earnings in July, he said, "This was a year that witnessed consumer trends/mood severely change their preferences. It is very tempting to write about all the challenges; from corn costs to horrific explosions—to fear-induced bomb or tornado catastrophes, but why do that? Instead, we count our blessings for results that are far better than our industry peers anticipated."
Apparently, though, the fizz has gone out of the soda business since. Even though "Good soft drinks are to the human race what sunshine is to a picnic!" the CEO admitted that consumers have less disposable income.
(Read more: Beer sales take a knock from payroll tax hike)
"Maybe everyone learned an invaluable lesson—'No instant fix for a distraught consumer!'
However, ever the optimist, Caporella sees trends improving. The press release ends with his insistence that "no mental degradation has occurred!", and we are left with these thoughts from a guy who may be the most unusual CEO since Andrew Mason did yoga in his underwear while running Groupon:
"Certainly, we have come to know—precious rainbows usually require both rain and sunshine! Team National's results were obtained by diligence and untiring determination. We are Disappointed—Yes; Contrite—Certainly; Resilient—Absolutely. ..."
Come to think of it, wouldn't it be nice if more CEOs were this honest?
—By CNBC's Jane Wells; Follow her on Twitter: @janewells